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How to Cook Brats on the Stove

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Learn how to cook brats on the stove with beer and onions. Probably the best way of cooking bratwurst sausage on the stovetop; pan-fry them with beer and onions for a simple and hearty dinner.

brown sausages in a cast iron pan.

You don’t want to wait for good weather to be able to grill some bratwurst? How about learning how to cook brats on the stove? A simple recipe for cooking bratwurst using just a few ingredients. There are different methods of cooking sausages without a hot grill, but this beer brats recipe is probably the easiest one.

And if you are at it, check out how you can cook brats in the oven or air fryer brats as well. And should you only have frozen brats, see How to Cook Frozen Sausages.

overhead shot of a black pan with bratwurst in it.

What is a Bratwurst?

THE German sausage. You can buy them everywhere, from cheaper ones in the supermarket to really high-quality ones at the local butcher.

There are different types of bratwurst, depending on the region in Germany. The two most obvious ones are the fine and the coarse. Both sorts are delicious, but I suppose everyone has their favorite. I prefer the coarser sort, especially when I cook the brats on the stovetop. But whenever I buy sausages for grilling I make sure to get both sorts, most kids prefer the finer ones.

Bratwurst is the kind of sausage you can get at any public event, at any feast or party, not only Oktoberfest or other fall festivities but anywhere. Slowly cooked on a charcoal grill, they are just amazing! Stuffed in a bun, smeared with mustard or ketchup, or sliced in a weird machine and smothered in curry sauce.

And although we can get them so easily anywhere we go, we still cook and eat them regularly at home. Everybody just loves a good bratwurst! This easy recipe is our favorite way of cooking them inside.

bratwurst cooked on the stove top in a pan.

What do you need?

Just 3 ingredients + a little oil, salt, and pepper. You could add a small pinch of teaspoon caraway seeds to the liquid for a slightly different flavor, but it’s not mandatory, I just like it.

  • Bratwurst:
    • Buy good quality, preferably coarse brats. Better quality pays off, they really taste better, more spices, more flavor, less fatty.
    • My brats weighed about 75 g/ 2.7 oz each. A little more or less is fine. If they are much larger, you might want to prolong the cooking time.
  • Onions: one medium sliced onion, about 150 g/ 5.3 oz.
  • Beer: about 250 ml/ 1 cup. If you don’t want to cook with beer (although the alcohol cooks off), you can cook the dish with chicken or beef broth instead. Or apple juice for a sweeter version.

raw sausages, sliced onion, beer and oil on a wooden board

How long to cook bratwurst on the stove?

  • Quarter the onion and slice the quarters.
  • Heat the oil in a large thick-bottomed pan, a cast iron skillet yields the best results.
  • Sear the brats on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. (1)
  • Flip using tongs and brown the other side for another 3 minutes. Searing adds a lot of flavor, so don’t skip this step.
  • Add the onion slices between the sausages and cook for about 2 minutes, until golden, stirring a few times. (2)
  • Flip again, add beer, cover, lower temperature, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, flipping again halfway. The internal temperature should read 71 degrees Celsius/160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, just cut one sausage in the middle, it’s easy to see if it’s cooked through. (Amazon affiliate link) (3)
  • Remove the bratwurst, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the sauce for about 2 minutes.
  • Return to the pan and turn them into the sauce. (4)
  • Serve the sausages and the caramelized onions immediately.

collage of four pictures showing how to cook sausages in a pan.

Tips

The beer will not make a lot of sauce, its main job is to keep the brats moist, preventing them from drying or catching to the pan. It also adds flavor. Instead of beer, you could try some apple cider, either with alcohol or without.

How to serve bratwurst?

Always with mustard. Otherwise, you can have them with bread, stuffed in a bread roll or hot dog bun or with fries, ketchup, or mayonnaise. They also go well with German Potato Salad or any kind of potato salad, with Noodle Salad, oven-baked potato wedges, and most other potato side dishes you can think of.

And sauerkraut or Bavarian sauerkraut. Brats and sauerkraut are a match made in heaven. Some mashed potatoes on the side and you will feel like you are in Germany.

brats in a pan served with a bowl of mustard.

Commonly asked questions

Why cook brats in beer?

The idea behind it is to cook the sausages all the way through. You start with browning them in the pan, then adding onions and beer. Without the beer, the onions would burn before the brats are cooked through. Another reason is the extra flavor the beer imparts to them. As mentioned above, beer is a perfect match in terms of flavor, but otherwise, you can use other liquids as well: apple juice, cider, chicken, beef stock or vegetable stock, even water. Non-alcoholic beer should be fine as well.

What is the best beer for brats?

A lager or a pils, they have a nice flavor but they are not overpowering. They are cheap and easily available everywhere in the world. Another advantage is that they don’t tend to boil over when you use them for cooking.

What pan to use for cooking brats?

I use my cast-iron skillet all the time. Another sturdy pan or a non-stick pan works as well.

Should I poke holes in the casing?

No! The brats will release all their juices and their flavor and they will be overcooked. Cooking them in the liquid will prevent them from splitting, at least it has never happened to me and I must have cooked what feels like millions of brats. Keep an eye on the heat, this is a good way of preventing splitting and overcooking.

Can I cook Italian sausages this way?

Actually yes, if they are similar in size and texture, they will taste great as well. Raw kielbasa is another option. Always check the internal temperature, especially if the products differ in size.

Can I use frozen sausages for the recipe?

You didn’t have the time to go to the grocery store but still, have some frozen brats in the freezer? No problem! In this case, skip the browning part. Cook the onions for about 2 minutes until golden, then add the beer and the brats. Cook for 13-14 minutes until the sausages are cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 71 degrees Celsius/ 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You will probably miss the depth of flavor added by searing the meat first, but the dish will still be delicious.

What to do with leftovers?

Let the meal come to room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container. It’s very easy to reheat them in the pan. However, you should add a bit of extra beer or another liquid. Reheat them gently on the stove, covered, and stirring occasionally.

Can I freeze the leftovers?

Yes, they should be fine for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat well before serving.

More sausages:

seven sausages in a cast iron pan with a fork.

How to Cook Brats on the Stove

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Learn how to cook brats on the stove with beer and onions. A simple, hearty and delicious way of cooking bratwurst.

Ingredients

  • 10 small brats (about 75 g/ 2.7 oz each) (Note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion (more or less 150 g/ 5.3 oz)
  • 250 ml/ 8.5 fl.oz/ 1 cup beer
  • fine sea salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Quarter the onion and slice the quarters.
  2. Heat a large thick-bottomed pan (preferably cast-iron skillet). Add oil. Sear the brats on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, flip using tongs and cook on the other side for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the onions between the sausages and cook for about 2 minutes, until golden, stirring a few times.
  4. Flip the sausages again, add beer, cover, and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, flipping again halfway. The internal temperature should read 71 degrees Celsius/160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don't have a meat thermometer, just cut one sausage in the middle, it's easy to see if it's cooked through.
  5. Remove the brats, add salt and pepper to taste, and reduce the sauce for about 2 minutes. Return the sausages to the pan and turn them into the sauce.
  6. Serve immediately.

Notes

If your brats are larger is fine, just increase the cooking time slightly and check if they are done by cutting one in the middle.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 2 brats
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 554Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 1390mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 21g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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